015 – Steven Abd El Hamid of LiveWith – Real Roommate Collaboration


Collaborative roommate and apartment finder app…

LiveWithProblem: Most roommate opportunities are short-term sublets of additional rooms. This can lead to unstable situations with people with whom one might not be the right fit — fitting a circumstance instead of the perfect match, bad for renters and landlords alike. What if one could connect with someone on their same wavelength on one’s search — together. Real roommate collaboration. The demands exists and is resonating so well, there is a surge of early adopters and brand partners.

LiveWithSteven Abd El Hamid, Co-Founder and CEO of LiveWith (a roommate and apartment finder app like no other, which makes it easy to find ideal roommate matches, chat, schedule and collaboratively rent an apartment together – all within one app) joins Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

In this episode:

  • Abd El Hamid reveals how 88% of Millennials are living with roommates, and have 4% less wealth than preceding generations, not as just a matter of choice or preference, but a necessity in most urban areas in the US and in Europe
  • How those Millennials require a mechanism to find a stable and desirable roommate situations as a matter of importance
  • The traditional process of finding roommates for many was relying on other agents talking to people like the person seeking a roommate situation, hoping that he/she was looking in same location, same budget, and same interests
  • LiveWithAbd El Hamid shares how he was co-owner of a real estate brokerage which matched roommates from Craigslist into situations, how they decided how to automate that process, and how they were looking at the most efficient ways to do that in the midst of carrying out a rental
  • How LiveWith is like date-matching tech mixed with the trend for everything to be available and transacted online, with the added impact of being able to consummate the entire rental through the product without having to leave the product
  • Why more companies don’t take this path – the technology exists but some of the powers that be have not had an incentive to build it out
  • Prospective roommates can chat via the LiveWith app and search all properties that fit preferencesLiveWith
  • How LiveWith uses general first-tier compatibility matching questions along with machine learning
  • The way LiveWith is referring business to various apartment providers, at a cost-per-click
  • What drove people to adopt LiveWith early on, and how most options are sublet-based
  • Societal and macro economic changes are driving symbiotic micro economic trends
  • Co-living situations, and “dorms for adults”
  • Sweden vs. USA, Abd El Hamid’s difficulty in transitioning from on Visa to another
  • How Abd El Hamid found his co-founder through an acquaintance
  • How vision plus effort can lead to success, and reaching for the sky as a an entrepreneur

014 – Dani Arps – Startup Space, The Design Frontier

Startup office design

Designing office spaces for startup companies, with Dani Arps…

Startup office designWhat comes first, does culture drive design, or does design foster culture? Danielle (Dani) Arps, a design expert, reveals how startups can approach a new office space, curate functional, supporting productivity, retention, and community in the workplace, work surfaces vs. desks, creating spaces people can work in where they will be the most productive, the nature of tertiary spaces, and aesthetics vs. personality when one doesn’t make sense for a business model. Plus, what math and music have to do with office design. Arps joins Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

In this episode:Startup office design

  • How Arps designed spaces for Venmo, SeatGeek, and others, how she begins the inspiration process to design for a startup, and having a certain sense or vibe vs. traditional design.
  • Thinking about the design for a startup since it is a corporate office space,
  • Considering how are different spaces consumed
  • Why open offices may not work for a lot of companies, looking at the growth of tertiary spaces (i.e. living rooms within offices), quiet nooks, phone booths
  • Where the trends came from, the idea of open and tertiary spaces, what’s driving thoughtfulness in space usage, the impact of freelance workers
  • How employees can be more productive because they like where they work and want to be in a space where they like being, and looking at it all starting with Google
  • Startup office designHow company culture and ethos impacts design
  • A well-designed space is a perk, and helps recruit and retain employees
  • Why companies that are not startups want the look and feel of startups in their spaces
  • The nature of how generational expectations are changing
  • Does culture drive design? Or design drive culture?
  • What the point of the company is matters in the design, including how the company is aligned with the industry, and where you want company brand and culture to go
  • Phases of the design process: conceptual, programming, construction documentation/purchasing, installation

013 – Jonathan Wasserstrum of Squarefoot – Now It’s Time for Commercial


Transparent commercial brokerage with proprietary smart tools…

SquarefootThe real estate industry is antiquated. For most people they think of the residential real estate first, and that’s lagging enough. But technology and innovation in the commercial real estate space? That’s twenty years behind residential. An exception to this is Squarefoot, an online brokerage platform that enables companies to find commercial properties without going space to space.

SquarefootJonathan Wasserstrum, Co-Founder and CEO of Squarefoot (”a team of trusted commercial real estate experts armed with our own technology to help guide you from initial inquiry to lease signing and beyond”), joins Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

In this episode:

  • SquarefootThe state of affairs of commercial real estate today, two decades behind residential real estate, comparative sizes of residential vs. commercial
    Enabling tenants to find space more easily
  • The problem being solved by Squarefoot is offering transparency and technology, as a listings platform,
  • Squarefoot’s biggest size deal ever, and the average size and company needs commercially
  • Playing a role in helping solve real estate problems
  • How Squarefoot clients can see the inventory
    Squarefoot aligns better incentives between broker and client, instead of commission based on deal size, a flat fee per broker, a different comp model, so its not about steering toward biggest commission.
  • Most brokers aren’t still at the same brokerage after three years, and at Squarefoot the rate is better than the industry average
  • First efficiency, not having to prospect, how inbound people search online and wind up on the Squarefoot site
  • Offering further efficiency via tech and products in the space and discovery, and a proprietary app
  • Looking ahead to the next level: agency business representing landlords
  • Commission structure in commercial vs. residential similar, and how many buildings average landlord own
  • A lack of interest from Squarefoot in competing against CoStar — being just a channel for tenants to find space and landlords to market the spaces, not a current interest in data.
  • Is Wasserstrum a technology guy or real estate guy?
    Ample Hills ice cream makes a special appearance
  • Are most companies actually tech companies?
  • 20% of market is moving every year, but it takes 5 cycles for everyone to go through a new change of process/tech, with commercial taking even longer
  • The need to ask “how do I do it better”
  • Anything that can help increase the top line, and decrease expenses, should be a welcome thing
  • A lack of Houston TX accent
  • Houston’s lack of zoning

012 – Bryan Colin of VirtualApt – Visualizing With Robots


360 degree video tours using VR and AR technology that films and processes web-based virtual reality in real time, via autonomous mobile supercomputers…

VirtualAptWhy this service is important for consumer convenience, how consumers browse actively for all products but for the biggest purchase of their lives they typically make, they haven’t had access to the same digital access. To let them get the guided tour of spaces it can save time and money for all involved, plus offer convenience for the consumer.

Bryan Colin, CEO of VirtualApt (360 degree video tours via autonomous robots) joins Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

In this interview:

  • VirtualAptLooking at early innovators like Google Street View and NET-A-PORTER with 360 images, and now being able to compress quality of video necessary to make this full and better, getting a full tour experience with narration, and with embeddable video on a custom player
  • VirtualApt’s full production team in the autonomous robot, programming the same path a normal tour would be
  • Hiring veterans as robot operators and why this plays such a significant role for the company
  • How the service is as affordable as a photographer, and how VirtualApt is able to bring the cost structure down
  • Why so much of VirtualApt’s business is in residential real estate in Brooklyn, NY
  • The ability to have international consumers see virtual tours that are narrated in their native language, and why landlords love international renters
  • VirtualAptA snack of Raspberry pie has meaning
  • Reproducing currently guided tours, being able to meaningfully experience views and sizes that a 2-page brochure doesn’t work for, along with all the visualization that a company would need
  • How the price point is so low, providing everything the client needs and making it so much more affordable and with quality control plus touching many points of the process—this controlling best end results
  • The world of visualization beyond real estate, how VirtualApt is more of a tech company thank a service company, and the aptitude of apt
  • How VirtualApt is inventing its own tech
  • Creating more links into the video, seeing a product in that space, creating a new experience, shoppable links to buy or shop, and making virtual reality experience what it should be
  • Bringing you to another location where you want to be, showing what makes that space unique
  • Bootstrapping the company, recruiting the right people, creating a company culture as an enjoyable place to be
  • Does this technology risk putting real estate agents out of business or is it creating opportunities?
  • How robots can provide nearly exact measurements of a space, and Colin’s favorite robots
  • Being comfortable in your own self and in the world, and the cost of being focused as an entrepreneur
  • How the digital is now, and it is necessary to be focused on how you look digitally and your digital presence as the place when someone is there already

011 – Zvi Band of Contactually – It’s About the Relationships

zvi band

CRM for real estate…

Zvi Band, Co-Founder & CEO of Contactually (a customer relationship management software and service company, and a provider of customer relationship software for various industries including real estate) joins Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

Complex transactions require real relationships, and intelligent CRM, and motivating software adoption

Band discusses how the real estate industry is not vastly different than other industries, and simple sales don’t require complex relationships. Buying/selling homes and properties involves complex transactions, and the process is not always neat and clean. The primary competitive advantage real estate agents/brokers have is the relationship. The right CRM keeps relationships strong. The 1.2 million real estate agents in the US. How Contactually differs from other CRMs, intelligent CRM, and delivering intelligence, prompting action. Setting a level of expectation, training brands and ease of use, and overcoming low agent use of software in a brokerage.

Accepting change, the commodity of relationships, and how culture eats strategy

Incentivizing agents to use the support systems, and one muffin for snack time. The biggest pain-point real estate agents have, how some are stuck in their model, sand some are transforming and accepting change. How agents build their own brands with relationships and web presence, and relationships are a commodity. Technology makes sure transaction is smooth, supported, making sure agents can build their best relationships. Culture eats strategy for breakfast.

Brokerage vs. tech company, siloed listing data, and a rocket scientist

Why brokerages don’t always build their own CRMs, and are technology companies seeing real estate as a play? Or brokerages becoming tech companies? What’s broken in real estate that should and can be fixed, how listing data and MLS (multiple listing service) is siloed off, and a mess. Personal questions cover a rocket scientist, friends as a resource, transitioning to the public face of a company, and the duality of honesty.

010 – Ofo Ezeugwu of Whose Your Landlord – Housing In Their Hands

Ofo Ezeugwu

Neighborhood insights, landlord reviews, and quality listings empowering and informing the rental community…

Ofo EzeugwuOfo Ezeugwu, CEO & Co-Founder of Whose Your Landlord (enabling renters to find their next home and to review their landlords and housing complexes, and enabling landlords to provide and use renter references and to target their listings to their desired market), joins Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

Why it matters, content, and landlord reciprocation

Ofo EzeugwuEzeugwu discusses why the landlord review process is so important, why content is important, the need to educate, a forum called The Community, plus blog and video content blended in with the platform, reviews, search and content—all as key things. Plus, how landlords can reciprocate, and the overcoming fear of being blackballed by landlords.

Acquiring users, growth, and helping with disputes creatively

Ofo EzeugwuHow Whose Your Landlord is getting the platform in the hands of renters, how there are many truths to situations and reviews have both sides, larger companies are controlling larger blocks, the importance of reviews, bigger vs. smaller landlords, and more than 10,000 reviews in the Philadelphia and New York areas over 4 ½ years. Developing significant readership, getting involved in disputes, making content to help renters know how to maneuver out of issues and difficulties.

Diversifying the industry, inspired by off campus living, and expansion

Personal questions cover moving a lot as a kid, female and unrepresented backgrounds in real estate tech and how to change that. If people never had a hand in real estate or understood it, or parents could teach them about it, how will they be motivated to enter that industry? But every industry is helped by newbies looking at it, who are not jaded by that reality, and how can one create one’s own. And when one is looking for people, one may not know where to find them. The need for making a more concerted effort for change, and how that can make a big difference. Ezeugwu’s surprisingly good landlord experience, but as VP of his college student body he was focused on off campus activities, and a lot of housing issues. His favorite city to live in, Philadelphia and NYC, where they plan to expand in the cities growing fastest. What home is, and a crowdfunding opportunity for ownership in the company.

009 – Thomas Kutzman of Prevu – On a Mission to Save Homebuyers Money


Smart online brokerage enable commission rebates via an end-to-end Platform…

PrevuThomas Kutzman, Co-Founder of Prevu (a smart online brokerage focused on saving people money) and host of “Real Estate Is Your Business” podcast, joins Scott Pollack and Pavan Bahl in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser.

Better Technology. Better Service. Best Commission Rebates.

PrevuKutzman touches on how commission rates too high in real estate, with rates in the US/NYC being double and triple than other developed countries, and how his experiences along with his co-founder Chase Marsh led to creating a solution with Prevu. He continues that in New York City the average real estate price is $1.5-2 Million with high commissions, and how it really is not free to be represented by buyer’s agent because it’s built into the price because of commission split with buyer’s agent. How Prevu gets up to two-thirds back on commissions of buyer’s side to the customer, receiving money back as a commission rebate check. It is not because of a lesser service, instead using technology for better experience for buyers and to make agents more efficient, plus a lower internal cost structure. Controlling the consumer experience and the quality of service and interaction. Despite some 30,000 licensed agents in NYC, 10% of them are doing 90% of work. The Prevu brand acquires leads and customers digitally, and provides more stability and experience/activity for Prevu agents. Plus, why it is a scalable model, and best for major markets.

Engineering a smarter buying experience

PrevuHow Kutzman has been looking at it through the lens of other industries have changed like travel and financial, changing the way agents com into the industry and their expectations of stability, and why you’ll never learn a profession doing it part time. Prevu’s compelling value proposition, the impact of the new tax reform on real estate, and why it won’t impact most people. And, making use of a commission rebate, and expanding to other markets.

Charitable giving, learning, and treating people well

Personal questions cover giving back, a focus on charitable giving, Children’s International, and Code2College which encourages STEM careers at a high school level for underprivileged and minority teens, and how encouraging tech careers at earlier ages leads to greater success. The NYU Violets, how Kutzman was encouraged to save and buy a property instead of having cancelled rent checks, making sure if you didn’t know something, go take a class to learn it. How there are a lot of great real estate people, and a lot of great technology people, but few have a lens on both areas. As time goes on, more people will know both. The meaning of success, a great mentor, treating people the right way serving you well, “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”, and “Principles”.


008 – Oliver Swan of Treesdale Real Estate Partners – Student Housing is a Big Deal

Oliver Swan

Student housing as a captive market and massive asset class in real estate

Oliver SwanOliver Swan, Managing Partner of Treesdale Real Estate Partners (a real estate investment platform focused on the acquisition of student housing properties nationwide), joins Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

The opportunity, maintenance challenges, service platform

Oliver SwanWhat is student housing, is it dorms? The surprising quality and variety of students housing, and why this asset class? Marketing properties, the application process, how students discover properties, the focus on amenities, then price and location, starting with signing leases in fall, aligning with academic year, how it is a captive market, how students don’t have proper expectations so need to instill and manage those expectations. The current generation interacts differently, they don’t use the telephone to call for service Crazy requests from tenants such as one involving 25 tons of sand. Having to out technology in place to meet needs of tenants, and whether paying attention to social media is useful for responding to service, the opportunity for big data from service needs and responses, and a 100% engagement rate of platform for services. How the service platform is like a concierge out of necessity vs. luxury, for maintenance requests, and how real estate has lagged on technology front.

Technology complexity, navigating and strategizing demographic trends, and how universities prioritize housing

Oliver SwanThe complexity and expense of providing Wi-Fi to every resident as a challenge, especially when offering beefy enterprise-grade equipment and infrastructure, how landlords will need to react to the future tenants of this generation, hurdles to get big companies to partner in providing Wi-Fi, the bureaucracy in the way of partnering with municipalities to drive infrastructure innovation in major markets, how markets are opportunity-based, the strong demographics, focusing on the acquisition of existing products and operating them more efficiently or repositioning them for better value/monetization. How regional differences in demographic have impact on operating properties. Looking at university enrollment over time and their plans, along with statewide demographics and economy, plus factors leading to family creation and trends across education paths. And why providing housing is seen as an ancillary priority for universities.

Good timing, a room divided, and the concentration required for racing cars.

How Swan got his start with some good timing in this new growing space with Campus Habitats. And how his job is being a generalist and being able to do a lot of different tasks. Swan’s freshman year dorm room as the seeds of a desire to fix things in student housing, a roommate random coincidence who played a combination of Fish and Rent, too many towels, and a room divided. Being clean but messy, total concentration of taking a car onto a racetrack, and geography leads to a goal in Botswana.


007 – Paraag Sarva of Rhino – Securing Rentals

Paraag Sarva

Security deposit alternative for rentals with Paraag Sarva…

Paraag SarvaParaag Sarva, CEO/Founder of Rhino (replacing security deposits with a smarter alternative that’s better for both renters and landlords) joins hosts Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu.

An atypical path, from dating site to the Mayor’s office, and why Rhino was created

Paraag SarvaSarva discusses how Rhino is making renting easier, starting with security deposits and figuring it out after that. He reviews how his path has not been that of a typical real estate entrepreneur, taking a journey starting with financial services, working as a policy advisor in the NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s office, a principal at Grow Real Estate, and his role as Vice President, Media and Partnerships for the dating site How About We. Plus, why Rhino was created, and some amazing donuts.

Insuring the landlord, marketing, and additional applications

Paraag SarvaHow instead of signing a lease with a security deposit, Rhino insures the landlord for damages caused by the tenant, solving challenges and pains from owner’s side. How Rhino marketed it to landlords, being mindful of ignorance of forfeiting security deposits, how the renter/landlord dynamic is adversarial, and why it takes a culmination of experience and learnings to do something in a complex space. The potential of applying this type of thinking to other components of real estate transactions.

Business strategy, customer adoption, and a presidential “prediction”

Business growth strategies based on looking at the concentrations of where people live and want to live, following the population and obvious opportunities, how Rhino achieves customer adoption, and employing geography by geography company-building much like dating sites. Sarva’s favorite industry so far, the implications of being the youngest in an entrepreneurial family, sibling rivalry, and a 2020 presidential race prediction and candidate suggestion.

006 – Richard White of Goodlord – A New Set of Rental Rules


A platform for transactions and “paperwork” for UK home rentals…

GoodlordRichard White, CEO/Co-Founder of Goodlord (the first digital system that pulls together the whole tenancy setup process) joins hosts Thomas Kutzman and Scott Pollack from the United Kingdom. Recorded in the MouthMedia Network studios powered by Sennheiser. Presented by Prevu. Special thanks to Tom Lambert of Global Founders Capital.

Overcoming industry fragmentation, whether the UK market is more receptive to innovation, and umbrella agencies vs. agents

White discusses taking on a great opportunity, and initiating what he believes can be a global movement, the nature of the rental market in the UK, the changing rental experience, what he saw as an estate agent, how in this day and age so much of the rental market is “super fragmented”, the continuing use of antiquated processes such as fax machines, questioning why the industry is not more modern, and his determination to do something about this. He reveals how he looked at discovery, how to find property, how manage it, but no one making transaction easy or tying it all together. He and his co-founder figured it was the right place to start, from signing, to exchange of cash, to due diligence. Why the UK may be more receptive of real estate tech than other markets. The Goodlord software platform, its segments including emerging (1-3 offices), then 3-13 offices, and 13+, and the division based on how big the agency is and how many transactions. White describes how in the UK there are more umbrella companies, not individual agents.

Building a new set of rules, creating ease and transparency, and finding a co-founder

Next, White reviews the goal, how Goodlord can’t sell product only to estate agents, how they need to take key stakeholders and establish an understanding of a new set of rules. Plus, the challenge of having to convince people that electronic signing was legal. The impact on the industry, driving things forward, and the effort to making people raise their game, making renting as easy and transparent as possible for everyone, going from 11-130+ people in the business, how scaling a business is difficult, finding his co-founder via serendipity from renting a house together, and the dynamics of friends vs. family as business partners.

Working with investors, selling the vision, and cryotherapy

How a large investment changes the dynamics of business operations and focus. Selling the vision, getting the MVP out the door, and dealing with potential investors. Personal questions cover struggles with school, learning problem solving, a surprising app on his phone, cryotherapy, football and cricket, Outward Bound, and white water canoeing. And, taking stock of assets, how a business owner is the biggest asset, and the importance of developing an arsenal of thing you know.